Know your pork and how to cook it

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WHEN preparing a pork dish, it’s important to choose the right cut of meat to go with it, but with so many different cuts available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Robina Farms Premium Fresh Meat has come up with a guide on which cut is best for what kind of dish, plus a few suggestions on how to get creative.

One of the most common and versatile cuts of pork, kasim (pork shoulder) has layers of fat and litid (sinew), making it ideal for slow cooking and suited for most pork dishes like adobo, menudo, and sinigang (meat/chicken cooked in vinegar; a stew of pork and sliced liver in tomato sauce, carrots, potatoes; sour soup).

Recipe Recommendation: Get creative with pork shoulder by roasting it whole on low heat for an extended period of time. With layers of fat keeping it moist, cooking it low and slow allows the flavors to seep in, resulting in the perfect roast for pulled pork.

From the same area as the pork loin, the tenderloin is, as its name suggests, the most tender of all cuts of pork. It also has the mildest flavor because of how lean it is, and benefits from lots of seasoning. It’s best cooked and treated like steak — grilled or pan-fried.

Recipe Recommendation: Make an alternative to chicken fingers by breading and frying tenderloin strips and pairing it with a honey mustard dip, or use it as a substitute for beef in a garlicy salpicao (a quick beef stir-fry dish).

The row of bones surrounding the loin, the ribs are located closer to the belly while those closer to the backbone are the more tender baby back ribs. Ribs are very flavorful on their own, and are best enhanced by charred flavors when they are barbecued.

Recipe Recommendation: Put a unique spin on barbecued ribs by adding coffee grounds to the dry rub.

A definite crowd-pleaser, the liempo or pork belly is the fattiest and most flavorful cut with alternating layers of meat and fat. It can be used interchangeably with kasim for a more flavorful and fatty pork dish.

Recipe Recommendation: Level up the classic liempo by rolling a whole pork belly into a log and filling with aromatics to make the Italian roast pork dish porchetta. This distributes the flavors more evenly throughout the meat, and creates a juicy roast with uniform layers of fat and a crispy skin.

The pigue (ham) is the second most versatile pork cut. It can be used in any of the same dishes as its leaner brother, kasim, and is also best for slow cooking. The pigue is where we get the ham.

Recipe Recommendation: Put a spin on basic adobo by adding coconut milk and allowing it to cook down to a thick sauce.

The underrated pata (hock) can be used for a wide variety of dishes that otherwise require general-purpose cuts. While it is not fatty, it gets tons of flavor from the layers of skin and litid surrounding it. It is commonly used for crispy pata, and the braised pata tim.

Recipe Recommendation: Pata slices can easily substitute for cubed meat in pork nilaga (boiled pork soup) or sinigang. When it is deboned and chopped, it can also replace the hard-to-find maskara (face) for sisig (sizzling chopped pig’s face).